Murder of Aya Maasarwe
On 16 January 2019, Aya Maasarwe (alt: Aiia Maasarwe, Arabic: آية مصاروة Hebrew: איה מסארוה, [aˈja masaʁˈve]), a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship who was studying at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia as an exchange student, was killed as she returned home from an evening at a comedy club in North Melbourne. The violent, random nature of the killing sparked renewed community concern about the safety of women, especially after dark in Melbourne. Parallels were drawn to the murders of Eurydice Dixon, Jill Meagher and Maša Vukotić. Maasarwe was buried in Israel, in her hometown of Baqa al-Gharbiyye.
Aya Maasarwe (Instagram)
|Date||16 January 2019|
|Burial||Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Israel|
(30 years non-parole)
Aya Maasarwe was born in 1997 in Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Israel, to a Muslim family. Her family is Palestinian. She was studying at Shanghai University, and was in Melbourne as part of a student exchange program with La Trobe University. Maasarwe was undertaking a business degree intending to work later at her father's firm in China.
Victorian police believe Maasarwe was attacked sometime after midnight on 16 January, around 50 metres from a tram stop on the corner of Plenty Road and Main Drive in the suburb of Bundoora. She had been returning home after attending a performance at a comedy club in North Melbourne and was on a video call with her sister.
Maasarwe's body was discovered around 7 am in shrubbery near the carpark of Polaris 3083 Town Centre shopping mall by maintenance workers. Items of clothing, suspected to belong to her attacker, were located within 100 metres of her body.
On 18 January, 20-year-old vagrant Codey Herrmann was arrested in Pioneer Reserve, a park in the nearby suburb of Greensborough. The following day he was charged with Maasarwe's rape and murder. He appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court and was remanded in custody.
On 21 January the family received the body of Maasarwe from the coroner. In the suburb of South Dandenong at the Albanian Sakie Islamic Centre, family along with supporters gathered for the Janazah (Islamic funeral rites) and prayer service for Maasarwe. The family returned to Israel on 22 January with her body. She was buried in her home town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye. Her family later created a scholarship for Palestinian doctors in her name.
On 29 October 2019, Herrmann was sentenced to 36 years in prison (30 years non-parole) for the rape and murder of Maasarwe.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, in a statement condemning the killing, said that "sexist attitudes in our society" needed to change to end the problem of violence against women in Australia. Andrews stated that "Victorians are united in sadness. In anger that this bright young woman’s life was taken from her. I hope we are also united in determination. That we can – and must – end this culture of violence against women."
- How dangerous is Australia for women?, BBC, 22 January 2019
- Israeli female student killed in Australia is laid to rest, AP (Washington Post reprint), 23 January 2018
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